Phil and Tania left Australia in November 2000 heading overland from Singapore through South-East Asia, China, Mongolia, Russia, the Baltics, the Mediterranean, Turkey, Iran and over to Nepal and India. On the way they have shared Reiki with people and animals, and have also done some volunteer work with the International Snow Leopard Trust in Mongolia, a new ecology and Buryiat Cultural Centre in Lake Baikal, the Italian League for the Protection of Birds (LIPU) in Sardinia, followed the Dalai Lama’s tour of the Baltics and gone on retreat in Nepal and India. They are now in Bihar, India.
Reiki in Bodhgaya
Tania and I arrived in Bodhgaya, India to attend His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s teachings. Bodhgaya is the place where Shakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment and is a very holy place for both Buddhists and Hindus. We thought we would stay a few weeks and then head off for more pleasant, cooler climes. Of course things change, and we are still here four months later!
After a ‘Peaceful Living, Peaceful Dying’ course held at Root Institute for Wisdom Culture (one of many Tibetan Buddhist meditation centers around the world headed by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, through the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition – FPMT) two western medical volunteers visited the course participants to talk about the attached clinic, the Shakyamuni Buddha Community Health Care Centre. They were so inspiring that we decided we must stay and help in some small way. Reiki was not on my mind at all, but when we found out there was a Reiki practitioner treating patients every morning, I thought maybe we could do the same. Jacqui, the Belgian Reiki practitioner, had been here for four months helping out and was about to leave India. I decided that this would be a great way to help. Tania, who had in mind helping on the mobile clinics (out to rural villages) and trying to help all the stray dogs, somehow ended up doing a 3 month purification retreat here instead!
The clinic was set up in 1991 after Lama Zopa came across a dying man lying on the street covered in flies. He brought him back to Root Institute and he was cared for until his peaceful death some months later. A destitute home was set up after that, gradually growing into the health care center/hospital that is today, with over 15 doctors, nurses, pharmacists, accupressurists and nutrionists. Dr Sanjay Mishra, who is the main physician in charge, is a homeopath, accupressurist and general inexhaustible giver of care to the sick. There are also allopathic doctors, and there is an American nurse practitioner volunteering for six months as well. Root Institute doesn’t officially offer Reiki but it is welcome.
Up to 200 people per day come for treatments, homeopathic medicines, physiotherapy and so forth. It gets incredibly busy for the staff. Being Bihar, and one of the poorest and least developed states in the country (there are bandits in Bihar!), diseases like polio, leprosy, tuberculosis, meningitis and all sorts of horrifying illnesses are quite common. While India has an excellent array of health care options (homeopathic, ayurvedic, allopathic, and Tibetan within the Tibetan communities), here the government system is fairly stretched and so clinics such as this one that not only give treatment but also care, are rare and so are becoming more popular among locals.
Reiki at the clinic
While most people still don’t know what Reiki is, at least there had been some Reiki practitioners before me! I usually get referred people with ‘pain’. The receptionist will call out for people with pain, and in someone will shuffle. Back pain, shoulder pain, joint pain generally – they come in with walking sticks, walking frames, helped by a family member, or just by themselves. Quite a few people who have suffered strokes are also referred for Reiki.
Women seem to be more restless and less immediately responsive to Reiki, I think due to the fact that women don’t get much time to lie back for an hour! Men seem to be much more used to that kind of thing and take to it much quicker, some becoming enthused regulars. Most people who I see do come fairly regularly to the clinic and so I end up treating a fair proportion of people a couple of times a month.
Having never worked in a health care environment before, it has been a very educational experience. In fact my introduction to the clinic came even before I had started practicing Reiki. I had volunteered to go to Patna (4 hours to the north) to donate blood for one of the inpatients who had been taken to the burns unit there. This man had suffered burns to over 60% of his body and it had taken several weeks of poor advice before he had been brought to Shakyamuni Health Care Centre. After treatment at the clinic, and then further care in Patna, he had been slowly improving. Unfortunately a bout of diarrhea had left him dehydrated and needing a transfusion.
At midnight the night before myself with one of the staff members were to take the bus to Patna to give blood, there was a knock on my door. The patient had died. That gave me a better understanding that this was a hospital, not a relaxation centre.
There is an eight bed inpatient facility to the clinic where people are brought who require ongoing treatment. Dr Sanjay’s attitude is that there is no point sending someone with a severe illness back home with medicine if the conditions that brought on the disease remain. The Director of Root Institute and the various Doctors therefore make decisions as to whether a more severely affected patient should remain or not (not always an easy decision given limited funds). The clinic tries to provide training in nutrition, hygiene, basic health care and cleanliness to these inpatients as well as to the outpatients.
Since I have been here some of the inpatients who have stayed include two boys with diabetes, a man with a broken back, a severely malnourished baby (actually 3 years old but you’d swear she was newly born), a girl with TB meningitis, a young woman with spinal TB meningitis who is incredibly emaciated and keeps asking when she’ll walk again, and just recently a young woman with HIV/AIDs. Children with polio who are having intensive treatment often stay for short periods as well.
Doing Reiki on the inpatients is perhaps more rewarding as well as more frustrating. You have the opportunity to do more regular sessions over a longer period. However, since many of these cases are chronic, it seems as if just as one area becomes balanced, another area of the body becomes serious, or something happens and everything seems to have reversed.
A good example of this is Vijay, who sustained spinal injuries after falling from his roof. He lay in bed for 6 months after running out of money for medical treatment. He eventually came to the clinic when pressure wounds (bed sores) became so deep they were exposing bone. I did quite a number of sessions over some weeks and he was really improving (lots of physiotherapy, nutrition, homeopathic medicines as well). And then he went to Gaya for some check ups and came back and from the point of view of the amount of Reiki he was gobbling up all over, was almost the same as when we first started!
Lalti (age 10) came to the clinic with TB meningitis. When I first started giving treatments, she had a strong fever. She really didn’t want the treatment, and started moaning and trying to get away. Her mother held her there. As I didn’t want to put the poor girl through more stress, I started with five minute sessions, gradually extending them as she became used to me (and the fact that I wasn’t going to administer a needle, not that that seemed to make a difference!). One day I could stay close to an hour, the next day she moaned and wriggled and I would leave after fifteen minutes. The Reiki going to her head (the only place I dared go, and absolutely hands off!) was intense. It felt like my hands had been beaten with a heavy stick. However, it seems to help and gradually the amount of energy seems to be lessening, the amount of sweating at that location is easing, and I hope I will be able to do a more complete treatment and that she will lose some of her anger.
Reiki as Problem Finder
It has been interesting to see how my treatments have fitted in with the other therapies. Generally I just visit a patient, do Reiki and wander off. The other staff, being professionals, are always busy. Since I don’t know much about these things, I can’t sit and offer advice about what medicines would be good, or say that this patient has this symptom, etc. However, I have found that on many levels Reiki is an extremely useful tool to assist the other therapies. A good example of this is Vijay’s legs. He can’t feel anything below his waist. No-one can tell what is happening down there until something manifests on the skin. With Reiki, however, I could feel which leg was taking in more energy and presumably was suffering lack of circulation the most. Doing Reiki on these areas I’m sure helped reduce his pressure wounds. Not long after I started with Vijay, it was found that he had developed no new wounds.
One other time, I noticed strong sharp sensations coming from near Vijay’s left kidney. When I was talking to Rick, the American nurse practitioner, Rick told me he suspected Vijay had a urinary tract infection. So the information from Reiki helped Rick in his diagnosis. Some of the feed back about what I have felt with Reena, the AIDS patient, may also help Rick and the Doctors. They have some very difficult cases for such a small hospital with such limited human and financial resources.
Root Institute for Wisdom Culture Charitable Trust
PO Box Bodhgaya, Dist. Gaya,
Bihar 824231 INDIA
(maybe changing to http://www.rioffice.com)